The very day that we closed on Spring Bird, my next door neighbor broke ground on their home. It seemed appropriate that two parallel stories would be beginning at the same time. We were inheriting Siloam and becoming Spring Bird, and our neighbors, the Loanes, were building their dream home on property that they had been taking care of for ten years. Our new beginnings were not the only thing that connected us. The Loane's property had originally been owned by Torkel Korling, the grandfather of these woodlands. He had planted and nurtured their woodland as he had ours. So, we are both living in someone's dream project. Furthermore, Danuta is an artist, who included a ceramics studio in her dream home! Talk about serendipity! I feel so lucky to have neighbors that are like minded and value nature and art as we do. I remember meeting Danuta for the first time and discussing the red cardinal that perched on her car every time she visited the construction site. He was greeting her and welcoming her to her new home. I knew we'd get along.
Awhile ago, Danuta gifted me with one of her mugs--just out of the blue, and it has become a favorite part of my coffee ritual. Because I feel like Danuta, her family, and ceramics are an extension of Spring Bird, I want to make her work available to purchase at the Spring Bird Cottage. So, available now are some mugs, vases, and a small plate! Also, if you are visiting Spring Bird and interested in touring Danuta's studio and seeing more of her work, please let me know. We'd be happy to make arrangements!
Danuta has been the most generous neighbor--so big hearted! I am nothing but honored to have her ceramic work pieces available to Spring Birders!
Also, the Spring Issue of Woolgathering is being mailed today! It's the perfect time to sign-up! Below is a little commercial that Penelope and I made together. Turn the volume up to hear our voice acting!
PS Thank you to everyone who has already subscribed! Your support means the world to me!!!
Also, you can download the March Bullet Journal cover for the wallpaper on your mobile device!!! See you in March!!!!!!
I know I've told this story many times before, but when I was about four years old, I decided that I wanted to grow up and be a wise person, and ever since, I have become a wisdom junkie. I started collecting wisdom shared around the dining room table. During parties, the tabke was encircled by the elder women in our family: grandmothers, aunts, cousins, etc. like diamonds around a sapphire. I would sit among the gems, for hours, during parties and just listen to their stories, opinions, and gossip. In high school, I studied Latin because I thought it would bring me closer to The Classics of Western Culture, which I thought embodied true knowledge and absolutely necessary for being wise. Well, I was wrong there on so many fronts. In college, I swung in the opposite direction looking for wisdom among the most marginalized -- believing that I had to go to the places of most abject suffering to gain the truest wisdom. This, of course, is also limiting and basic thinking. Wisdom is actually everywhere within everyone.
Lately, I have been finding myself listening --- not so much around dining room tables, but to podcasts, music, movies, You Tube clips, and other media. Since I spend many hours working with my hands, I have ample time to consume the stories and experiences told by others. What I love about podcasts, in particular, is that they are such an intimate form of media; you can listen to conversations that you might not otherwise encounter in your daily life--especially if you are a hermit, like me.
Through all of this listening, I have gained exposure to contemporary wisdom speakers all around. The prophets are among us, and I am toying with the possibility of collecting, distilling, and sharing what I listen to, read, etc. I'm not sure how that practice would take shape. So, in the meantime, here is a taste of some wisdom being spoken. (By the way, most of these are pretty mainstream wisdom sources).
From her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Dr. Brene Brown (with an accent over second "e", can't figure out how to add via blog) :
A social scientist, Brown studied scads of people who live with their whole hearts and found that they all had these 10 practices in common. From Page 9:
10 Guideposts For Wholehearted Living
1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
2. Cultivating Self-compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
8. Cultivating Calm and Still: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-doubt and "Supposed-To"
10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of being Cool and "Always in Control"
And then there is RuPaul and Oprah. I can't really say more than, just watch and soak up their collective wisdom!
Finally, there is real wisdom in practicing kindness. Don't take it from me, though, take it from Paddington Bear, who manages to find the good everyone one --- even his fellow convicts. If you have a chance and can catch Paddington 2 before it is out of theaters, your life will be enriched and you will leave the theater smiling, dancing, and on your way to make a marmalade sandwich. Check out the preview:
Or, at least, listen to this charming song from movie:
You may have noticed a few drawings inserted throughout the blog. They are from Penelope's Kindness Journal which she just brought home from school. I just saw it this morning and recognized it as a mini-packet of wisdom. What a wonderful idea to practice noticing you are kind. I might have to start doing this. Creating awareness leads to more actions of kindness, and there is no downside to that!
Here's a couple more from her Kindness Journal:
Well, that's a lot of wisdom for one blog post---But, OK, one more song from Paddington 2 that will help you clean your house, guaranteed!
Last Thursday, as I sat in my dentist office waiting room, I thanked the receptionist for moving up my appointment. Snow was coming, and everyone wanted to get home safely. I asked her if she thought school would be cancelled on Friday. She was confident that it would be, and respond to my less than joyful expression, she asked me, "Wouldn't you keep your kids home, anyway?" I flinched internally thinking of all the work I had planned to do during those six hours of school. Didn't this woman understand that I have a bullet journal complete with my weekly agenda, goals, and so many tasks that need crossing out? She followed my non-answer with, "My Grand-daughter and I have big plans to build a snowman!"
Oh, and then I felt a certain shame of a parent choosing work over play. "And the cats in the cradle and the Silver Spoon. . ."
The snow delivered as was forecast; school was, indeed, cancelled.
Friday morning, we slept in, ate a lazy breakfast, put work aside, and pulled on all of the protective layers before heading to our hilltop. We made multiple successful passes whizzing down, walked on the frozen creek until it wasn't frozen anymore, and shook the snow off the yew trees. After getting sufficiently soaked, we headed inside for warmth, lunch, and a little bit of work, but we were back outside in the afternoon. And during this second playtime, I actually took my turn on the sled! (It has been years.) To my surprise, it was truly delightful! We pretended we were Olympic athletes practicing bobsled, luge, skeleton, and snowboarding. (The last one was just Abe. He kept trying like a virgin surfer to stand up on his sled while moving downhill). We crashed, tumbled, and mostly laughed all splayed out like snow-encrusted roadkill.
After Penelope gave up the games, Abe and I crawled under a cedar, where he showed me how he climbs it. We noticed the woodpecker holes, and I told him how I had sat in that exact spot last summer cloaked in a mosquito net, at the end of our forest bathing session. It had been an impossibly hot and muggy day, half a year ago, and I had sat there feeling his playful energy. I remembered how I ran my finger along the patterned woodpecker holes, and how I wrote a poem about needing to play more. Well, half a year and a foot of snow later, I suppose I finally took my own advice.
Snow days don't come around too often, and when they do, they should be taken as the universe demanding a play date.
We ended our snow day watching the opening ceremonies in Pyeonchang. Our favorite part was seeing the thousands of athletes parade into the stadium to celebrate, perhaps the ultimate snow days, the Winter Olympics.
Since snow days can't be planned or scheduled, try to notice an impromptu opportunity to play in the snow (while it is still here), or just watch the goddamn Olympics! A 17 year-old won gold for snowboarding, and Abraham is now obsessed with him. Also, watch out for figure skater, Bradie Tennell, she is our hometown champion coming from Carpentersville. Go Bradie!!!
For me, coffee is ceremony. (I have written about it before in this blog). From the process of brewing it--to choosing a mug that meets my mood--to the nutty smell that hangs in indoor air, I love it all. Of course coffee is only enhanced when enjoyed with company. On Super Soccer Saturdays, my Dad brings Starbucks Lattes to the field. The coffee warms our hands and fuels our spirits. A few weekends ago, I drank bottomless cups elbow to elbow around a table with my dear friends, with whom Pat and I volunteered at Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, a house of hospitality for migrants. Living in community with volunteers and guests, we bonded telling our stories over coffee. You could say we forged our friendship through coffee.
But there is one among us who loved coffee even more than the rest of us--Megan. After Annunciation House, Patrick and I moved to Oakland while pursuing more education. Megan happened to be attending Berkeley along with Patrick. I was fortunate enough to meet with Megan regularly to walk, talk, and drink coffee. As a less experienced coffee drinker, Megan taught me the art of gourmet coffee, while we sipped and shared our way through the best that Oakland and Berkeley had to offer.
Fast forward a couple of years to when Megan met and fell and in love with Mario, a Maryknoll lay missionary who worked at a mission in Guatemala City called: Caminando Por La Paz,. The Mission was begun and operated by Father Tom Goekler, MM and serves the educational and nutritional needs of the neighborhood children. Megan and Mario eventually got married at Mario's family home which happens to be a coffee farm in Honduras. (I told you Megan loves coffee). The couple returned to the Maryknoll Mission in Guatemala City and worked with Maryknoll lay people in the U.S. to develop a means to sell coffee as a means to support both the efforts of Mario's family farm and the goals of the Mission. Patrick, the kids, and I were super fortunate to have visited the Mission for about four days. We were made part of the family and even participated in some of the academic activities being offered. Caminando Por La Paz is a beautiful resource for the children and families in that neighborhood.
I have always enjoyed Mario's family coffee whenever I had access to it-- which was whenever I got to see Megan. But I was recently made aware that you can order easily from here. So, I did! In fact, I'm deeming Family Coffee the official coffee of Spring Bird and Spring Bird Cottage! (Cue the trumpets.) If you are a coffee drinker, I encourage you to give Family Coffee a try. It's a super easy and enjoyable way to support two outstanding projects in the world instead of a mega, enormous coffee company, which I buzz-marketed (pun intended) earlier in the blog and am a bit ashamed to have been supporting so diligently all these years. And if you are not a coffee enthusiast but know someone who is, Family Coffee is a perfect gift! Also, as a side note, our Family Coffee came shipped to us in the protection of actual popcorn--the kind you eat--which was super easy to dispose of in our compost pile! At the very least, stop by Spring Bird for a cup of coffee. I'd love to give you a sample and catch up!
PS Megan and Mario (and baby Isabel) have since moved to Durham near her parents, but they recently spent six weeks at the family farm in Honduras.
PPS The mug that I painted above was made by neighbor Danuta Loane. Check out her beautiful work for sale here!
PPPS Below is the February image for downloading on your mobile device. (Sorry it's a couple of days late. . .)
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.